On a recent trip to Indonesia to visit my father-in-law I had the pleasure of meeting my first vanilla bean tree face-to-face! I love vanilla and it was so cool to see it growing in the coffee and spice farm we visited on Bali. I immediately started wondering what I could do with vanilla and beer. The obvious choice is some dark rich beer and our SouthPaw was the perfect candidate.
This weekend I set about making my vanilla sweet milk stout. Starting at about 12.30 I was making lunch for the family and between grilling some cheese + ham sandwiches I started the water heating for the mash. I turned the heat down so the water heated slowly and I enjoyed lunch with my family.
The water was slightly too hot when I checked back after eating, so stirred it for a couple of minutes with the thermometer and was then set to add my grains. I easily fit my brewing bag into my pot, added my grains and gave it a stir with my thermometer. I turned my oven on the lowest setting possible to generate a little heat and stuck the pot in on the lowest rack.
I have recently given my husband a meat smoker and decided to use his remote BBQ thermometer for monitoring my MASH temp while in the oven. It worked brilliantly! I stuck the metal thermometer end into the pot and ran the wire out of the oven so the temp could be read without opening the door. Worked a charm and just confirmed for me that my oven on the lowest temp holds my MASH perfectly at 67-68 C.
Confident that the temperature was holding okay, I set the timer for the hour needed and walked up into town to get some things from the market. On my return I was pleased to see the temp was still at 67C and it was perfect timing to proceed to the Mash Out and then The Boil phases. In between my hop additions I managed to put in a load of laundry and listen as my son did his reading homework. I decided to add my one long vanilla bean (slit down the middle) for the final 10 minutes of the boil (just to be sure and kill any Indonesian nasties).
I stuck my ice packs into the sink and filled it up with cold water, then left my wort to chill out while going upstairs to hear both my kids practice their piano. After a few tantrums they finished their practicing and were allowed out to play. I then easily finished up my beer batch – pouring my wort into Fermo and adding my yeast. Now he is tucked away on my counter for a couple weeks before I will bottle. I am eager to see if the one vanilla bean will make a difference. I want it to be a subtle flavour so think this may do the trick… the exciting part is going to be giving it a try in a few more weeks! Stay tuned…